The former governor reduced the prison sentence of a political ally’s son but reversed the parole board‘s decision to free dozens of inmates involved in similar crimes.
The reduced prison sentence that Arnold Schwarzenegger recently extended to a political ally’s son stands in stark contrast to the former governor’s denial of clemency for dozens of inmates involved in similar crimes.
In one year alone, Schwarzenegger cast aside decisions by the state’s parole board to free 29 such inmates who had served long prison sentences. They, like former state Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez‘s son Esteban, participated in crimes that left a victim dead but did not deliver the fatal blows.
And like the younger Nuñez, 11 of those inmates had no previous criminal record, according to orders from the governor’s office in 2009, the most recent year for which records are publicly available.
Among the reasons Schwarzenegger frequently gave for reversing the parole board — a panel appointed by his office and dominated by former police and corrections officers — was that the victim had been killed over something “trivial.”
In addition, the offender had demonstrated “callous disregard for human suffering,” often by fleeing the scene and leaving the victim to die, as Nuñez did after he and his friends drunkenly attacked a group of strangers on a San Diego street in 2008 after being denied entrance to a fraternity party.
Schwarzenegger laid out circumstances strikingly similar to those of the Nuñez case in a June 2009 order overturning the parole board’s decision to free Sieu Ngo, who had served 16 years for his role in a gang assault at Fullerton High School.
Like Nuñez , Ngo was 19 at the time of his crime. It was September 1992 when he and four friends chased and beat a rival gang member, Angel Gonzalez. During the attack, one of Ngo’s accomplices pulled a gun and shot Gonzalez once in the back, killing him. And like Nuñez, Ngo then hopped in a car with the others and hit the road.
In the Nuñez case, the politician’s son had stabbed one victim in the stomach while a friend fatally stabbed another in the heart. Then they drove to Sacramento and threw their knives in a river. Ngo’s group drove to Washington state, where they were arrested a month and a half later, according to Schwarzenegger’s order.